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Taste or Instinct?? The mark of a better chef. (I can’t help the drama in the title.)

>> Monday, January 24, 2011

The aroma of the food cooking was making a hungry me, even hungrier.  I dipped a biggish spoon in the boiling hot curry and blew air on it a couple of times.  Just when I was to put the spoon in my mouth , a frail hand slapped mine, hard. “Owww!!” I cried with a british accent. (I was imagining that I was Anjum Anand).
The hand slap was from gran. Now a jiffy ago she was seated on the dining table. The next she's slapping my hand??( my gran is 87 yrs of age and walks with a cane).
 "What was that for mamama#??” I screamed. Well, don’t judge me now, because cooking for 20 odd people can be nerve-wracking. And if those 20 odd people are your very own family who don’t hesitate to give you honest feedback and not touch a morsel if they don’t like it, you’re done for.
(#mamama=konkani for grandma)?".
Gran:"Why the hell are you eating that curry for?"
Me : Uh??. "I've to taste it,of course?" ( *of course=don't you watch the cookery shows?? Tasting is the mark of a true chef.)
Gran: "Rubbish. Taste? For what? U'll lose ur concentration on your cooking if u waste time eating it before it’s done"
Me :"But I've to taste it, of course?" (*of course = stop staring at me like I’m useless. Please go say your bhajans so I can carry on with my tasting and let my cooking stars shine bright-er)
Gran: “you never eat the food before you serve it.”
Me: “Huh?” (I’ve run out of ofcourses by now)
Gran: “All these years I’ve never tasted my cooking and it’s never turned out bad, has it?”
Me: “don't you watch the cookery shows?? Tasting is the mark of a true chef”.
Gran: “These cookery shows have made you useless. I’ve fed more people than those cookers(J) have in their whole life. I’ve reared 7 children and 6 grandchildren and today my ungrateful grandchild says I don’t understand cooking”.
Me: (totally unruffled by the story I’ve heard a million times). “a chef’s got to do, what a chef’s got to do”
Gran: “stand aside or u’ll get hurt” (It was WAR now)
Me: “huh”( but picking up a ladle nevertheless.)
Gran : (Looking at the curry). U need to add another tomato in there and fry it for a minute or so. It lacks sourness and texture. A little bit more haldi. And then add a pinch of grated nutmeg. Finish it off with two spoons of malai.
 Me: “Nutmeg is not in the original recipe. Anjum anand will be appalled at the idea probably”
Gran: “Ask these Anjum and Anand to talk to me”
Me: “Gran, please let me cook. I’m very nervous”
Gran: “just do these things that I’ve asked you to and your curry will be done. And add a teaspoon of butter at the end and a bit of salt. It needs salt.”
Me: (giving up and resisting the temptation to taste while she was there). “Okay”
Ten minutes later, I’m done with the gravy. It smells good I must admit.

When I was serving my ravenous army family, I wished hard they would like it cos there was no back up plan. Bad curry meant going hungry.
My uncle was the first to comment
Uncle 1 : “arre wah! Good.”
My cousin was next: “Nice. I need more”
Uncle 2: “u can cook now??”
Aunt2: “this curry is better than mine”
Brother : “Finally all the cooking shows helped, huh?”. (I wanted to punch him)
One satisfied voice said, “may be you can be on the next Master chef hah??”
That was gran. Smiling at me . And did I see a hint of pride in her eyes ? I guess I did.
Well gran, I think you deserve to be up there and maybe teach those ‘Cookers’ a few things on cooking.


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